Downloads

The Political Strategies and Unity of the American Corporate Inner Circle: Evidence from Political Donations, 1982–2000

Publication Date:
Nov 2019
Published In:

Recent work has offered competing explanations for the long-term evolution of corporate political action in the United States. In one, scholars have theorized that long-term structural changes in the American political and economic landscape may have radically transformed inter-corporate network structures and changed the political orientation of corporate elites. In another, a small group of corporate elites continues to dominate government policy by advocating for class-wide interests through occupying key positions in government and policy planning groups. This article's authors offer new evidence of patterns in and predictors of political strategies among the nation’s elite corporate directors. They utilize an original dataset (the Longitudinal Elite Contributor Database) linked with registries of corporate directors and their board memberships. They ask: (1) has the political activity, unity, or pragmatism of the corporate elite declined since 1982; and (2) are individuals who direct multiple firms more pragmatic in their political action? Evidence suggests that corporate elites are more politically active and unified, and continue to exercise pragmatic political strategies vis-à-vis their campaign donations. Using random- and fixed-effects models, the authors present evidence to suggest that becoming a member of the inner circle has a significant moderating effect on elite political behavior. They offer an alternative mechanism of elite coordination that may help explain the continued political cohesion of the corporate elite.

RSF

RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.

Grants

The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.

Newsletter

Join our mailing list for email updates.